Archive for March, 2013

One reason to join the union

March 6, 2013

Received from a State branch of a teachers’ union, by email:


Important information all fixed term teachers need to act upon as soon as possible

Your contract of appointment may have the wrong termination date and/or salary.

Termination dates

Your union has discovered that the contract of appointment template in the portal for use by IPS school principals is incorrect and we have requested the Department also check the template used by non-IPS schools, as we believe it is likely to also be incorrect.

In recent discussions, the Department have admitted that the information is incorrect.

The template wrongly instructs Principals how to determine the termination date of a fixed term contract. It wrongly advises that the termination date is the ‘close of business date’. This would incorrectly make the last day of term under the contract the termination date.

Short term (or ‘fixed term’) contracts should follow the rules below:

1.         If the contract is for the whole term (say term one in 2013 ), the end of the contract should NOT be the last day of term, but SHOULD BE the last day of the school  holidays proceeding the last term worked (e.g. for term one only appointments, the appropriate end date is not 19th April, but 3th May).

2.        If the contract is for the whole year, the end date of the contract should NOT be 20TH December 2013, but the 31 January 2014.

We have informed the Department that in our view the responsibility for the incorrect dates on fixed term contracts is the Departments as they failed to provide sufficient guidance to Administrators. The information is also not consistent with Industrial Relations Advice Number 14 of 2012 and the long-term practice of paying our members continuously during the holidays proceeding each term worked.

Why does this matter?

If your school has given you the wrong end date, it will affect how your contract is dealt with at its end.  You will be paid your leave as a lump sum at the end of term, and will not have school holidays form part of your service (further negative consequences will be, more upfront tax, less sick leave, slower long service leave accrual, more breaks in service and a later annual pay increment).

Salary Rates

You should also check to make sure that your fixed term appointment provides the correct salary as the these rates are also incorrect. This is more likely to be an issue for new employees as the contract template also contains the wrong starting salary pay scale and cites the wrong industrial agreement governing current wages (the template cites the old 2008 agreement although we have updated wages and conditions in the 2011 agreement – the difference is starting salary is over $6000 per year!). As a result, we have concerns that some employees may be being underpaid.

What should you do?

1.        Check your contract’s end date and salary rate (salary rates are contained in Schedule A of the Agreement – members should refer to what is commonly referred to as the ‘little red book’ containing your union negotiated wages and conditions).

2.        If your contract is wrong, let your Principal and Shared Services at the Department know. Ask to have the date and/or salary corrected, and a new contract issued with any underpayment rectified.

3.        If you have done this, and do not get a new contract and/or any back pay owing to you, contact Member Assist on 9210 6060 (metro) or 1800 106 683 (country) for further help from your union. This service is not available to non-members. If necessary, we will be collating member names and seeking to rectify issues directly with the Department.

4.        You may also like to remind any non-member colleagues why it is important to join their Union. More members equals more industrial strength. Simple as that!